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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The sound of songbirds fill the air. A babbling brook trickles down stream as a trout slowly makes his way through the shallow waters. The warmth of an early summer sun warms your face. A breeze rustles through the forest trees towering high above. No, you aren’t in your local national park. Instead, you’re at Lime Rock Park, one of the most renowned racetracks in North America.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food, boy the food. There aren't a lot of food stands around the track at Lime Rock, but being that the track is only 1.5 miles long, you're never more than a 1/4 mile away from the paddock, location to several food stands. And man do they deliver on quality and variety. If you're at the track early, breakfast is served in the form of bagels, bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, and even french toast for just $6.50.
For lunch, the burgers are the star. Ranging from $7 to $11 for the Double King Burger, the options are tasty, cooked fresh, and affordable for the amount of food you get. There are also meatball subs and chicken sandwiches for $8.50 and hot dogs that range from $5.25 to $6.50. A soda or water costs no more than $3, and various options for juices, coffee, and teas are also offered.
There is nothing like Lime Rock. The track is small, fast, and exciting. Known for its fast paced action that includes cars lifting off the track on high speed hills and side-by-side racing not typical of a road course. Lime Rock is heaven for the fan that wants to walk around the course and experience the event from various vantage points.
The entire infield is essentially one giant campground, making staying on site a breeze for fans. Every space is filled in the track, with campers and tents set up everywhere. Fans also have various places on hills to overlook larger sections of the track at once instead of just individual corners. It can be described as the most tasteful high energy party in racing.
The track's location in the middle of mountains and forest also makes it quite picturesque, and also means there are plenty of places to rest in the shade should the afternoon sun get too warm for you.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the facility however is the cleanliness. Nothing is out of place. Everything is clean, sculpted, and manicured. Even the restrooms are spotless, air conditioned, and NEVER smell horrid.
The downside of being in the middle of nowhere is that you're in the middle of nowhere. With the nearest major highway over 30 minutes away, the only thing nearby are small towns. Lodging is very limited, with mostly bed and breakfasts and small motels in the immediate vicinity. But drive 30 minutes in any direction and you are bound to find more places to stay.
As for food, the same principle applies. Small eateries like Four Brothers Pizza in Amenia, New York are top notch, with that particular location also playing host to a very modern throwback drive-in theater.
The fans at Lime Rock Park are among the best in sports, and that is not a joke. They cheer on good racing, appreciate quality competition, are kind and courteous and respectful of others (no cursing around kids or drunken idiocy), and overall want to have a good time with everyone else around them. They pack in every open space, but are more than happy to scoot over and tell you to pull up a chair and enjoy the same vantage point they have.
The hardest thing about Lime Rock is driving there. The roads surrounding the track are one lane each direction, small and winding through the mountains and farmlands. While the drive can be peaceful, one may actually miss the small sign for the track and drive right past. However, once you are at the track, it is so easy to get around.
Parking is plentiful no matter the size of the crowd. Camping is also packed yet with space available. Signs at the track direct fans to the fan zone and different turns around the facility. The paddock is open to all visitors, allowing fans to get up close to all their favorite cars and teams.
The money spent on a ticket is well worth it. The track is gorgeous, the facilities are clean, and the folks there are always smiling, having fun, and enjoying life. This is how road course racing should be. The argument could be made that every other track should look to Lime Rock for how it is done. At the same time, the food is also affordable, the access for fans is second to none, and there is so much to see and do at the race. This is one of the best values in sports.
The track sets up free driver autograph sessions during the races, allowing fans to meet their favorite athlete at the track.
Another bonus is the amphitheater style victory lane, situated at the bottom of a big hill with the fans crowded around. There, the drivers are recognized and the fans show their appreciation for a job well done, something no other track really gives the fans a chance to do in such a setting.
Perhaps one of the more overlooked things one may not notice either is the history of the track. Built in the hey day of racing decades ago, the track has withstood the test of time, and you cannot help but feel like you're a part of something bigger when you step foot on to the property.
Something most tracks get wrong is the quality fan store. Located in a building that overlooks the paddock, the store has t-shirts, hats, pins, lanyards, vintage posters, and so much more.
Another neat fact is that the track is actually on the US National Register of Historic Places.
Finally, how can one not recognize the x-factor of the track...the cars literally fly. At the uphill section, cars crest over the hill and sometimes lift off the track, flying through the air! Where else can you see that besides Lime Rock?!
When you're looking for somewhere to go for a race that is picturesque, modern yet historic, easy to get around and not so spread out, welcoming fans of all ages and enthusiasm levels, and beautifully manicured, look no further than Lime Rock. Book a room on AirBNB, make a week out of it and visit the beautiful land around, take in a drive-in movie, and watch some of the best racing North America has to offer in the peaceful hills of Connecticut.
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